THE SHEPHERDS SPEAK
WALKING THROUGH THE 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
The spectacular angelic visitation to the shepherds the night of the Nativity is a familiar refrain of the Christmas season.
We, as people of faith, grasp the implications of the angel’s message.
But, how did the shepherds who first heard the angel chorus perceive the announcement?
LUKE 2:9-11 (KJV, emphasis added)
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’”
A FRESH LOOK AT THE SHEPHERDS
The shepherds have been denigrated over the centuries as ignorant and uneducated outcasts of society.
History, on the other hand, suggests the shepherds watching the sheep on the hills around Bethlehem may have been part of the Levitical priesthood entrusted with the care of temple flocks. (1) Consequently, they were most likely versed in the Hebrew Scriptures; but at the very least, they were certainly familiar with Israel’s history including God’s covenant with David—the shepherd king.
THE SHEPHERD KING
A little over a thousand years earlier, David was king of Israel.
The kingdom had been united and Jerusalem established as the capital. Overwhelmed by gratitude for all God had done, David determined to build a temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. Although he was denied that privilege, God consoled David through the prophet Nathan who delivered a message with the terms of what is known as the Davidic Covenant.
Nathan was straightforward. He told David, “your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Sam. 7:16). It is an unconditional or unilateral covenant and one of four between God and Israel in which God is the sole guarantor responsible for the fulfillment.
An Eternal Dynasty
The first provision of God’s promise to David was “a house”.
God was not promising to build David a place to eat, sleep and hang his hat; he already had a palace (2 Sam. 7:1). Instead, God guaranteed a dynasty, a royal line of descent or posterity that would be eternal continuing into perpetuity.
God explicitly declared,
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations” (Ps. 89:3-4) (2)
An Everlasting Kingdom
Second, in addition to an eternal dynasty, God promised David an everlasting kingdom.
Although not functioning at all times or in every period of subsequent history, the Davidic kingdom continues to be viable. Through the millennia of Gentile domination, the kingdom could have been restored at any time.
An Established Throne Forever
Third, God promised David a throne, which like his posterity and kingdom, would be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16). Just as David’s kingdom has continued to have viability throughout history, so the Davidic right to rule persists from David’s time into the future. Despite periods when others have usurped the rule over Israel, God guarantees that the kingdom and the throne rightfully belong to David forever.
God tied His Messianic program to King David assuring that the promised Messiah and Savior would come through his family.
WHAT THE SHEPHERDS’ CONDUCT REVEALS
The shepherds response following the stunning angelic announcement confirms they grasped that Jesus was indeed Israel’s Messiah—the promised Savior.
The Bible documents that the shepherds heard the angel’s message firsthand and immediately, “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child” (Lk. 2:17, NIV).
If the shepherds could be teleported into the 21st century, they would urge us to join them in sharing the Good News of the Savior’s birth, today!
The drama unfolding on the night of Jesus’ birth has captured the imagination of Christians through the centuries. By God’s grace, we share in the benefits of the awesome angelic announcement!
(1) Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah, (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.), 131.
(2) Even after Jehoram, a later king of Judah, married Ahab’s daughter and did, “evil in the eyes of the Lord,” God stood by His promise to David and would not, “destroy the house of David because of the covenant He had made with David” (2 Chron. 21:6-7).
1) Walking to church (c. 1853). By George Henry Durrie (1820–1863), [PD-US, PD-Art], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) David, the Future King of Israel, While a Shepherd at Bethlehem, (c. 1877). By John Rogers Herbert (1810 – 1890), [PD-US, PD-Art], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
3) Entrance to the Shepherd’s Field, Bethlehem. By Berthold Werner [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
4) The Adoration of the Shepherds, (c. 1615). By Bernardo Strozzi (1581–1644), [PD-US, PD-Art], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Categories: Walking Through the Days of Christmas